Buying Guide - Dishwashers


washing up

You have to know what's out there before you can decide what to buy.  There are several different types of dishwashers on the market, each with its own unique features.  It's well worth taking your time to learn about each different type of dishwasher, as this will help narrow your list of possible models for purchase.

Built-In (semi-integrated) Dishwasher
A built-in dishwasher is perhaps the most common type of dishwasher these days as most homes now have fitted kitchens.  These models are installed neatly into the kitchen cabinetry, and offer the most variety in terms of style, features and available upgrades.

Integrated Dishwasher
Designed to be concealed behind a kitchen unit door.  The cabinet facing is attached to the front of the appliance, camouflaging it so that it blends in completely with the rest of your kitchen.

Drawer Dishwasher
These have a separate top and bottom drawer instead of the standard top and bottom sliding racks.  Most models allow you to use the two drawers independently: you can run a wash cycle through either drawer alone, or both drawers together.

Compact Dishwasher
These small-scale models are well suited to use in a small kitchen.  If you want the convenience of automated dishwashing but do not have sufficient kitchen space for a conventional machine, choose a compact dishwasher.  These are available in several models including slimline, portable and countertop.


We're all concerned with energy efficiency these days, whether it's because we care about the planet or simply want to get our utility bills down.  In response to this, dishwasher manufacturers have responded with many special energy-saving features designed to conserve water and energy as well as reduce operating costs.
As you shop for dishwashers, pay special attention to the water consumption information noted on the EU Energy Label.  All dishwashers should have this sticker prominently displayed.

If you can't find the EU label, it's fairly easy to figure out a particular model's water efficiency on your own.  You just need to divide the dishwasher's water consumption (generally listed in litres per standard cycle) by its capacity (the number of place settings it will handle).  The most efficient models will have a water efficiency rating of 1.08 litres per place setting or less; the worst may use three or more litres.

Another way to ensure your new dishwasher will be energy efficient is to look for the Waterwise Marque.  This is awarded annually for appliances and other household products that reduce water consumption.

If you purchase the most efficient dishwasher on the market, you must still use it properly to get the maximum benefit.

These simple tips can help improve your dishwasher's efficiency:

  • Only wash full loads

  • Take advantage of any special wash cycles or settings

  • Don't pre-rinse

Settings and wash cycles


Even the most basic dishwashers have at least three wash cycles:  heavy (for pots and pans), normal and light.  These three settings are usually enough to tackle the average household's dirty dishes, but if you desire a more up-market dishwasher, you're certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to additional cycles and settings.
If you're particularly hard on your dishes, look for dishwashers with a pot-scrubber cycle, a high pressure cycle, or a soak/scrub setting.

Some dishwashers offer a delicate cycle that will clean and sanitise china and crystal without damage.

For energy efficiency and water conservation, choose models that have an economy cycle, steam clean setting or a water-saving half-load cycle.

Many modern dishwashers have a quick clean cycle, a rinse-and-hold setting, or a timed setting to program the appliance to run on delay: you'll never come home to dirty dishes again.

A dishwasher with a high-temperature sanitising cycle is great for sterilising your baby's bottles and utensils; a definite plus to protect the health of your child.

Special features

If your budget doesn't allow for a load of high-end features and tech-y extras, you can still get plenty of great functionality from today's dishwashers.

Adjustable Racks
Whether it's moveable racks, variable tines, or silverware and stemware holders, modern dishwashers usually have some kind of internal reconfiguration option.  This makes it quick and easy to load pans, plates and serving dishes.

Sensor Technology
Now found on many high-end dishwashers, dirt sensors automatically sense how much leftover food is on your dishes and adjusts water temperature and cycle length accordingly.

The whole point of using a dishwasher is to remove food particles from your dishes. Dishwashers now come equipped with powerful filters that remove food and keep the washing and rinsing water clean.  There are two kinds of dishwasher filter:

  • Self-cleaning - an internal grinder mashes up debris and sends it down the drain: can be a bit noisy.

  • Manual - no grinder, but just as effective (and quieter); has to be removed and cleaned by hand.

Stainless Steel Interior
Being more durable than plastic, a stainless steel internal tub means your new dishwasher is likely to last longer than a standard model.  You will pay more for a stainless steel dishwasher.

Touchpad Controls
A hidden touch panel makes for a very sleek and chic dishwasher design.  There are no bulky buttons or knobs on the face of the appliance; all the controls are instead set along the top edge of the door and are totally invisible when the dishwasher door is closed.  The hidden touchpad is a nice feature if you've small children - little fingers won't be able to push buttons or turn knobs when your back is turned.